June 17, 2018

not ashamed

When you became a Christian, you became an ambassador for a kingdom. You were given not only “Good News” to share with others but also one of the most powerful communication tools ever developed: the conversation.

 A conversation is simply a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between people who are following unspoken rules of discourse in an agreeable and polite manner. What makes starting conversations about the gospel so difficult is we assume one of society’s “unspoken rules” is to avoid talking about religion.

 Consider all the Christians you’ve met. Almost every one of them came to the faith because someone had a conversation with them about Jesus. Similarly, millions of people of other faiths are “spiritual, but not religious.” They, too, are likely to have an interest in discussing religion.

 In his encounter with the woman at the well, Jesus showed how a conversation could be a powerful tool for revealing himself and his kingdom. We can unlock the power of conversations about the gospel by applying the following:

  ➤ Be open—When he sat at the well, Jesus was likely tired and parched and in no mood to talk. But when he encountered the Samaritan woman he remembered his mission was to “finish the work” he had been sent by the Father to do (see Jn 4:34). Remembering our mission makes starting conversations easier.

 ➤ Be interested in people—People like to talk about what they know. And the one thing they know better than anything else is themselves. People aren’t necessarily being narcissistic for wanting to talk about themselves; they might just want to talk about what they know with someone who appears interested. We will be interested in others when we remember we are called to love and serve them.

 ➤ Ask questions, but don’t interrogate—Rattling off a series of questions can be intimidating. Instead, show genuine interest by asking people about themselves. Asking follow-up questions based on their responses to previous questions shows you are listening and are sincerely interested in their thoughts and ideas.

 ➤ Uncover their burden—At some point in a conversation, a person is likely to say what they do for work or relate an experience they are going through. A simple way to establish empathy and signal you truly care is to respond with some variation of “that sounds challenging.” Almost everyone believes the work they do is difficult or unappreciated or that their life is, at least in some ways, burdensome. If they open up about the challenges in their life, it provides a key way to open the door to spiritual matters.

 ➤ The “prayer ask” opening—If the person is willing to reveal a burden, ask if you can pray for them about it. When you ask, though, the reason should be because you are truly interested in interceding to God on their behalf. It’s not a “technique” to turn the conversation, though it can help you gauge a person’s interest in talking more about the gospel. If it seems appropriate, you can then follow-up with other questions, such as “Do you think much about spiritual things?” “Does faith play a significant role in your life?” “What is your concept of God?”

 ➤ Listen carefully to their responses—You don’t have to agree with them, but avoid trying to show why they are wrong. Show them you are interested in their views, opinions and concerns.

 ➤ The “reason I ask” approach—After broaching a spiritual topic and listening to a person’s answers, you can transition by saying “The reason I ask is because . . .” and then explain why you think it is important to talk about Jesus. This is your opportunity to share the gospel, though you might find it easier to begin by first briefly sharing your testimony. Remember, however, that your testimony is your “witness”—it is not the gospel. It would be a shame to open the door for a discussion about the gospel only to forget the most important part.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Matthew, 40 years old and is stressed and suffering from anxiety attacks.

Pray for Carl V, looking for a new job

Pray for Susan K, just graduated from high school and will be leaving home for college in a month and is freaking (a little).

BOW THE KNEE

June 14, 2018

BOW THE KNEE

You may think I live in a cave, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard this song. What a great song.

Ron Hamilton

What a privilege to come into God’s presence,
Just to linger with the One who set me free.
As I lift my eyes and see His awesome glory,
I remember who He is and bow the knee.

Bow the knee, bow the knee,
He is King of all the ages, bow the knee!
God alone on His throne,
See Him high and lifted up and bow the knee!
Kneel before Him, all adore Him.
As you live to love Him more, bow the knee.

In His hand He holds the power of creation.
With His voice He spoke, and all things came to be.
Yet He hears each simple prayer I bring before Him
When I humbly seek His face and bow the knee.

Bow the knee, bow the knee,
He is King of all the ages, bow the knee!
God alone on His throne,
See Him high and lifted up and bow the knee!
Kneel before Him, all adore Him.
As you live to love Him more, bow the knee.

  “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19).

  Personal knowledge of and fellowship with our risen Lord Jesus is counter-balanced by personal knowledge of and fellowship in the death of the Cross. The principle of balance prevents our slipping past the Cross and pushing into His presence.

  “Where do you dwell? ‘Come and see. They came. . . and abode with Him’ (John 1:39). The highest satisfaction He can have is that we should be at home with Himself. He has removed the distance from His own side.

  “If you believe that, you say, I will approach Him. That is one thing. The next thing is, His love is so great He delights to have your company. It is not that you will feel yourself out of place there—you will be there in all the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our Father delights in having us with Himself. Love yearns to satisfy itself about me. It is not only that I can go in, but a much greater thing—my Father, in all His majesty and glory, can come out! All is equipoised. Not only have I entree, but I am shaped to the grandeur of the scene, conformed to the glory of God. Not admitted like a stranger, but changed into the same image; not to equality but similarity; transformed into moral correspondence.

  “If we are not with Him where He is, we cannot be for Him where He is not. We must be inside the veil to be outside the camp.”

  “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22).

 

SUPER POWERS

June 13, 2018

Enterprise_5_hr

  “Partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world” (2 Pet. 1:4).

  We are to find out in Romans 6, through the gracious teaching of the Spirit of truth, all that happened to the Lord Jesus there on the Cross. Then we will know our own position and standing, since we were judicially in Him there.

Have you ever thought about God’s thought about you, that you are ‘to be conformed to the image of His Son’? ‘It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him’ (Rom. 8:29; 1 John 3:2).

This cannot fail. The Lord Jesus presses on our hearts that He brings us into association with Himself. He ‘hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Eph. 1:3). He puts us in this position answering perfectly to His nature, and with a nature to enjoy it.

  “He imparts to us of Himself in order to qualify us for Himself.”

Not only is my blessing in heaven, but I need the Lord Jesus’ power to enable me to rise above the sense of my infirmity down here; for this world, instead of contributing to me, makes me feel my weakness and need, and that I must rise out of it to find and enjoy my blessing.

The very infirmity which this evil age makes me conscious of makes me draw upon the power of Christ, as the One outside it, passing into the heavens, so that I take pleasure in the very infirmity which is exposed here, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

  “God forbid that I should glory, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Praise from Anne, 42 days sober

Pray for Rachel, severe ear infection

Pray for Jay P, having knee surgery on Thursday

Cam, pray for this young mom and her battle with cancer.

Pray for Christina and Todd, spiritually curious, pray the right people come into their lives

Cool it

June 8, 2018

Anger is an emotion, an involuntary reaction to a displeasing situation or event. As long as anger is limited to this involuntary, initial emotion, it may be considered a normal reaction.

 It is when we respond improperly to anger – when we lose our temper (let anger get out of hand) or store it up so that it makes us bitter, resentful, or hostile – that is becomes dangerous.

It is here that the Bible calls us to account. In approaching the subject of anger, we must realize that not all anger is wrong. When the Bible deals with anger, it may be focusing on several different emotions.

For example: 1. Moses’ anger burned when he saw the unfaithfulness and idolatry of his people. (Exodus 32:19)

  1. On healing the man with the “withered hand, ” it is recorded that Jesus “looked around at them in anger” because he was disturbed at their (the Pharisees’) stubborn hearts. (Mark 3:5, NIV)

  2. Though not explicitly stated, anger is implied in the attitude and actions of our Lord as He drove the profiteers from God’s House. (Mark 11:15, 17)

  3. Anger is somehow involved in our attitudes and treatment of sin. “Be ye angry, and sin not.” (Ephesians 4:26, KJV)

It Is Scriptural To Control Anger: “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Prov. 29:11, NIV). On attempting to control our anger, we must realize that each person has the right to his own opinions, and his life should be characterized by dignity and respect. At the same time, and in order to keep things in proper perspective, let us not forget that if Jesus had demanded His “rights,” He wouldn’t have gone to the Cross. There is a fine line of distinction here.

The thing to remember is that the Christian must be careful of his responses, remembering that our position may be right but our attitudes wrong. Bill Graham writes: “The Bible does not forbid displeasure, but it sets up two controls. The first is to keep anger clear of bitterness, spite or hatred. The second is to check daily on whether we have handled malevolent feelings. There is an old Latin proverb, “He who goes angry to bed has the devil for a bedfellow.” Of course, there are many irritations in life. They become prime opportunities for Satan to lead us into evil passion.”
Anger Is Excessive or Uncontrolled If:

  1. It results in out bursts of temper and/or bad language.

  2. It results in bitterness, resentment, and hostility (the urge to “get even”).

  3. It is spiritually debilitating, causing inner turmoil, unsettles one’s tranquillity and sense of well-being. Do I have the feeling that my attitude is displeasing to God or that I am “giving place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27, KJV)?

  4. It results in harm to other people.

Does it negatively affect my testimony as others observe my bad responses? Are they victims of those responses?

How Can We Learn to Control Excessive Anger?

  1. Try not to interpret everything as a personal offense, oversight, hurt, etc. At the same time, attempt to pinpoint the things that cause you to become excessively angry.

  2. Make your attitudes and responses a matter for serious prayer. We ought also to take the irritating behavior of others to the Lord, realizing that God uses people and circumstance to refine our character. One may have many rough edges that need to be filed down!

  3. Cultivate the practice of confessing excessive anger as sin. The importance of “immediacy” in this matter of seeking forgiveness is to be interpreted in the words of the Apostle Paul, “Do not let the sun down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26, NIV). Learn to balance the books at least by the end of the day.

  4. Realize that the Christian must learn to cope with two natures, each striving for supremacy.

We must learn to practice the “put-off,” “put-on” principle of Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV):

  1. “Put-off” the old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires (verse 22).

  2. “Put-on” the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Verse 24).

  3. The effect of practicing the “put-off,” “put-on” principle is to “be made new in the attitude of your minds” (verse 23).

This is the way to validate 2 Corinthians 5:17.

  1. Strive to focus your anger away from yourself to the problems that are causing it.

  2. Surrender each day to the Holy Spirit. “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:16, NIV)

  3. Let the Word of God permeate your life as you read, study, and memorize it. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom . . . ” (Colossians 3:16, NIV)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

KILLING ME SOFTLY

June 7, 2018

  “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2).

  It takes more to break inertia than to ease momentum. Misdirected zeal is more easily corrected than inert spiritual sleep.

  It is possible, and very humiliating, to be awakened to the fact, though we have had a measure of zeal for the Lord, that we have barely known the things we should have known, nor the behavior that is becoming to us in this wonderful day of grace.

  But it is the love of the Lord Jesus that would lead us on, through the judgment of ourselves and ways, into deeper communion with Himself to be better representatives of Him here in whose likeness we shall soon appear.

  The snare with zealous and often legalistic, but unprepared and unbroken hearts, is to do the right thing in the wrong way. It is not enough to know the right thing, but I must know the right way of doing it. Not by power, nor by might, but by His Holy Spirit. Which reminds me one of the best books you can read on the Holy Spirit, indeed the only book you will ever have to buy on the subject is by Dr. John Walvoord.

  Denial of the old man is where he is most felt, not where he is least felt; and all the light of Scripture cannot promote growth without self-denial. Here is where most fail, and in this day there is a great deal more zeal to acquire knowledge and intelligence in the wonders of revelation, than to deny the man that has no sympathy with it, nor part in it, but condemnation.

  “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Ronnie Smith, at 63 years of age all the life of nothing but having a party has caught up, the doctor gives him days.

Pray for Sherry M, 30 years ago she was in the choir, taught a children’s bible study and now is absent from the church and living in deep moral depravity. The good news is she still gets convicted enough to see if I’ve given up on her. We go to lunch, we pray she cries, she straightens out for a short time and then she wanders off. I told her today the time between us meeting is growing farther apart, enough that I wonder if there will be another time.

The Worldly Kingdom

May 27, 2018

Well you get to read my Sunday Sermon.

The Kingdom of this World.

  1. The Danger of Passivity

The very first danger that I want to warn you of is the danger of passivity—the danger of passivity—that is, feeling that you don’t have to do anything—feeling secure, not really being aware of the devil, of his kingdom, and this king of terrors.

Now, you do need to be informed. You cannot afford the luxury of being passive. You need to understand that, as a Christian, you’ve been born again; you are a member of the Kingdom of Heaven; you are a citizen of another Kingdom; and, while you live and dwell here on Earth, you are dwelling in hostile territory. We are citizens of Heaven, but we live in Hell’s headquarters.

Now, let me give you a verse that points that out in the Book of the Revelation; you may just want to put this in the margin. In Revelation 2:13, Jesus was speaking to that church at Pergamos. And, this is what Jesus said to that church, to encourage them: “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat”—s-e-a-t—”is” (Revelation 2:13). That literally means, “where Satan’s throne is.” Now, Jesus said, “I know that you love me, but I also know that you dwell where Satan’s throne is.” You see, the Kingdom of God has a King, and the kingdom of evil has a king: his satanic majesty, the devil. And, Jesus very clearly called the devil, in John 14:30, “the prince of this world” (John 14:30). Jesus said that about him. He is the prince of this world. He is the dark prince.

Now, notice, in verses 11, 12: “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus” (Ezekiel 28:11-12). Now, you say, “Pastor, is this scripture directed to the king of Tyrus?” Yes and no. It was directed not only to the king of Tyrus, but it was directed through the king of Tyrus, to the power behind the throne. The king of Tyrus was a wicked, demonic, demon- infested, devil-inspired, malicious, vile, corrupt, and violent king. But now, our Lord speaks to the power behind his throne—the devil himself. It’s very obvious that, from the context, our Lord is speaking, not merely to the king of Tyrus, but to Satan, who was behind the king of Tyrus.

Now, this is not unusual. Before, in the Bible, we have seen the Lord address the devil through an individual. For example, Jesus said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me” (Matthew 16:23). Now, Jesus was talking to Peter, but He was really talking through Peter, right on to the devil, who had motivated Peter to say what he had said. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent was used of the devil. And, the devil took an animal, a serpent, and used the serpent to defile and to deceive Adam and Eve. So, God, when He addressed the serpent, was really speaking to the power behind the serpent, to the devil himself.

Now, his reign of terror. The king of Tyrus had a reign of terror that was energized by the devil. Now, I want you to notice how he is described here, in this passage of Scripture. Notice, in verse 12: “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” Obviously, you know that was not a human king; certainly not the king of Tyrus: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God;”—the king of Tyrus was never in the Garden of Eden—”every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold” (Ezekiel 28:12-13). You see, here is a creature that is described as being scintillatingly brilliant, dazzling in his beauty, surpassing in beauty, and superlative in wisdom. Isaiah tells us that his name was Lucifer. Lucifer literally means, “light-bearer.”

And then, the Bible says that he had pipes in him. Notice the last part of verse 13: “The workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created” (Ezekiel 28:13). Now, Bible expositors have sometimes said, “Could it be that this man—this being, rather—was a master musician, that music resided in him, and when he spoke, when he expressed himself, it was like a great vast pipe organ speaking, that there was melody that fell from his lips?”

And, he dwelt in a jeweled city of rare mineral beauty. Does that remind you of anything? One day, the saints are going to dwell in a city just like that. The Bible says he was upon the Holy Mountain. Now, this certainly doesn’t mean the king of Tyrus; he was not like this. What does a mountain, a Holy Mountain, stand for, in Bible prophecy and typology? The Mount of God stands for the government of God; the mountain stands for the authority of God. This one had something to do with the government of God, the authority of God.

Many believe that he was the prime minister of Heaven. He is called, in this same passage, the “cherub that covereth” (Ezekiel 28:14). The word covereth means that he spreads forth his wings. That is, he was there as the prime minister of God; there, before the throne of God; there, beholding the glory of God, spreading out his wings there. He was a cherub; that is the highest class of angels.

Over in verse 18, it mentions his sanctuaries; notice, here, “Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries” (Ezekiel 28:18). This means that he evidently had a priesthood, that he received the worship of other creatures, and passed it on to the throne as an angelic priest, spreading out his wings there, to the throne. We can only begin to wonder what all of this cryptic language means. We can see glimmers and facets that here was a person highly, highly exalted.

But now, I want to tell you something, folks: In all that we said about him, I don’t want you to make a tragic mistake that some people make when they consider the devil. Have you ever played the game of antonyms? Do you know what a synonym is? A word, a different word, but it has the same meaning as the first word, right? Now, an antonym is an opposite word. All right? Let’s play the game of antonyms. I’ll mention a word; you give me the opposite word, okay?

“Up” (congregation: “down”). Good. What a smart congregation! All right. “Backward” (congregation: “forward”). “Left” (congregation: “right”). “God” (congregation: “Satan”). Satan? You were wrong. Now, that’s the mistake that many of us make. Don’t ever think of Satan as the opposite of God. You see, God has no opposites. God has no antonyms; and God has no synonyms. There is nothing like God to compare God with. And, Satan is not the opposite of God.

So many people have the idea that over here is the kingdom of Satan and over here is the Kingdom of God, and that, somehow, these are polarized opposites, equal opposites. They are not—they are not. God is God, and Satan is a created being. I want you to understand that. And, as a created being, he is subject to Almighty God. And, you need to understand this. Now, he is great; but notice, he was created: “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created” (Ezekiel 28:15). Now, all I have done is to try and show you of the greatness, something of the majesty, that was inherently his.

  1. The Danger of Pride

But, I want you to notice something else in dealing with the devil. Number one: Beware of passivity. Beware of acting as if the devil doesn’t exist, or that he is of no consequence. But no, my dear friend, he is a person of great, great, great, great, magnitude and consequence. And, he has an effect on your life, like it or not. You cannot afford to be ignorant; you cannot afford to be passive. Secondly, in dealing with the devil, I want you to also beware of pride.

Now, it was pride that made the devil the devil. Continue to read here, in verse 15: “Thou wast perfect…”—speaking to the king of Tyrus; actually, the power behind the throne, the devil himself—”Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise”—underscore that phrase, “by the multitude of thy merchandise”—”they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground” (Ezekiel 28:15-17). The Bible says, “[He that] exalteth himself shall be abased” (Luke 14:11), and, certainly, this has been fulfilled in Lucifer himself. Now, Lucifer, the son of the morning, became Satan, the father of the night. He became a fallen angel, a fallen spirit-being, through the sin of pride.

Now, we don’t have to guess about that; the Bible makes it very clear to us that it was the sin of pride. First Timothy 3:6: God gives instructions for the qualifications of a minister, and one of these is that he “not [be] a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). It doesn’t mean that the devil will condemn him; it means that the same thing that happened to the devil will happen to him—that it was pride that made the devil the devil.

Now, what happened is this: that the devil was handling holy things, and it got to him. Merchandise is that which passes through our hands. Notice in verse 16: “By the multitude of thy merchandise” (Ezekiel 28:16). Now, here was a person who made merchandise his office. And, I want to warn every young preacher-boy who’s listening to me, every Sunday School teacher, every child of God, to beware when God blesses you—when God anoints you, when God uses you—that you don’t make merchandise of your office.

“Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). Now, it was pride that made the devil the devil—not only because of his merchandise, but because of his inherent beauty. Notice verse 17: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness” (Ezekiel 28:17). His brightness and his beauty brought him down. His pride brought him down.

Now, let me say this: that his beauty and his brightness are corrupted, but traces are still there. So, when you consider the devil, and think about the devil, don’t think of him primarily as some scaly monster with hooves and a horn. No, the Bible describes him, strangely enough, not as a repulsive monster—though he is one; but the Bible says he has the ability to transform himself and his ministers as angels of light. Listen to this scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15. The Apostle Paul is warning about the seductiveness of false apostles. My dear friend, let me say, that when you look for the devil, never fail to look in the pulpit.

I was preaching one time, and a little boy came up to me, after the service, and said, “Pastor, when you were up there preaching, I could see the devil, just as plain.”

But, in all seriousness, here’s what the Apostle Paul says, speaking of false apostles—and he said, in 2 Corinthians 11:14: “And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Ministers of righteousness who are truly ministers of Satan.

You see, Satan has always been able to deceive. He still has his beauty, but it is a blemished beauty. He still has his wisdom, but it is a warped wisdom. Let me tell you, let me describe the devil, if I can describe the devil, for you: He is brilliantly stupid, hideously beautiful. Have you got that? Brilliantly stupid. Now, when you think about it, the devil’s a knucklehead. I mean, he’d have to be to be the devil, wouldn’t he? I mean, to think about it, that he thinks that he can overthrow God! That is unmitigated stupidity. And yet, when the Bible describes the nefarious working of Satan, it does it in these words: “more subtil than any beast of the field” (Genesis 3:1). Angel of light, the wiles of the devil, the snares of the devil, the devices of the devil; wisdom, but wisdom corrupted.

You know that many people who have mental problems sometimes are cunningly wise, but yet so far from being at home base mentally. This is what has happened to Satan. He is brilliantly stupid, hideously beautiful; and you see, dear friend, there are signs of that beauty that remain. I am convinced that the devil works through some of the world’s best music, some of the world’s best light creations, some of the world’s best literature. Don’t just look for the devil in the bowery or in the slums. You’ll find him in the finest universities; you’ll find him in the art galleries; you will find him in the halls of learning; and you’ll find him, sometimes, in the pulpits, as he transforms his ministers as angels of light. But, what was it that brought him down? It was pride!

Now listen, when you allow pride in your heart, when I allow pride in my life, I become in league with the devil, more than any other way. There is nothing that makes us more untouchable by Satan than a genuine humility—a genuine humility. Pride is the devil’s stock-in-trade. And, the Apostle Paul warned: When you have a minister, make sure that he is seasoned, that he knows God, lest being a novice, he be lifted up with pride and come under the condemnation of the devil (1 Timothy 3:6). The devil knows how powerful the tool of pride is. How did he get Eve to fall in the Garden? It wasn’t a temptation to fall down; it was a temptation to fall up—not to be ungodly, but to be godly. “Do this; you’ll be like God—only, just do it my way.” And, the temptation to her was pride. And, to every mother’s child since then, it is the temptation of pride.

III. The Danger of Presumption

Now, there’s a third thing I want you to be aware of, in dealing with the devil. Beware of passivity; beware of pride; and beware of presumption. Beware of presumption.

So many times, we have the idea, when we sing, “Oh, victory in Jesus!” and, when we hear who Jesus is, and what He’s done for us, that, evidently, the devil has been so incapacitated, so demolished, so diminished, that we just simply are going to steamroll over him. And, my friend, I want you to see something of the devilish power that still resides in him.

Again, I remind you that Jesus said, in John 14:30, that Satan is “the prince of this world” (John 14:30). And, in 2 Corinthians 4:4, the Apostle Paul called him “the god of this world”—little “g”: “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Apostle Paul, when describing the nefarious kingdom of darkness, said, in Ephesians 6:12, he spoke of “the rulers of the darkness”; he spoke of the principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). Now, the devil is commander-in-chief of vast numbers of spirit-beings called demons, who are in full sympathy with him, who rebelled with him, and do his bidding.

I’ve said that you will deal with the devil, but I said maybe not directly. As a matter of fact, the devil is not omnipresent. He can’t be everywhere at the same time, as the Holy Spirit of God. But, he has myriads—multitudes—of demons. We talk about, “We’ve been wrestling with the devil all day.” Maybe we’re bragging a little; probably, a puny demon could handle most folks. But, my dear friend, you do come in contact with him. And, he is in control of the kingdoms of this world. He offered those kingdoms to Jesus, and Jesus refused them; but Jesus did not rebut his right to offer them, for he, Satan, said, “All of them have been delivered to me” (Luke 4:6). Jesus did not challenge Satan’s charge, or Satan’s statement; but Jesus simply refused, and He won the kingdom back by His death on the cross. But, He did not deny Satan’s right to give these kingdoms.

Now, Satan is known for a multitude of iniquities. Notice, in verse 18: “Thou hast defiled thy sanctuary by the multitude of thine iniquities” (Ezekiel 28:18). Notice, in verse 16, he’s known for his violence: “By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence” (Ezekiel 28:16). My dear friend, Martin Luther, who wrote that great grand hymn—one of the grandest I believe has ever been written, —”A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” said of Satan, and he would say to us, of Satan:

His craft and power are great,

And armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal (Martin Luther).

I hear people today talking flippantly, casually, sarcastically, about Satan, and I think Satan is sitting over in the corner smiling, when they do that. Acts 10:38: the Bible speaks of those who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). Luke 13:16, speaks of those: a woman, whom Satan has bound (Luke 13:16). Second Corinthians 12:7—even the Apostle Paul spoke of a “messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2 Corinthians 12:7). The King of Tyrus still has a reign of terror: subversion, perversion, diversion. He wants to divide, to depress, to destroy. Depression, oppression, possession. Satan, sin and suffering are a trinity of terrors that are inseparable: Satan, sin and suffering.

Now, I don’t want to frighten you, “because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). But, I do want to warn you not to be presumptuous. If you’re presumptuous, you’re going down. Beware of passivity; you’re going to be involved. Beware of pride; you’ll get over in the devil’s territory. Beware of presumption, as thinking that he is just simply a piece of cake, and that there is no struggle with the powers of darkness.

  1. The Danger of Pessimism

One last thing I want to say, and that is to beware of pessimism. Beware of pessimism. Don’t get the idea that, somehow, Satan may win, or that things are going to get so bad or so terrible that everything is just going to go wrong. I’ve said before, and I want to say again: There is no panic in Heaven. The Holy Trinity never meets in emergency session.

Notice what God said in Ezekiel, so long ago: “It’s going to happen.” 28:17: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness:”—now, watch this—”I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee” (Ezekiel 28:17-18). When Satan said, “I will ascend,” Jesus said, “I will descend.” And, Jesus has conquered Satan at Calvary. And, the Bible says, in Hebrews 2:14, that He destroyed “him that had the power of death” (Hebrews 2:14). And in Greek the word is katargese it is the word that is used there, and it doesn’t mean, “to obliterate”; it means, “to make of no effect.”

When Jesus Christ was on the cross, as I preached a few Sundays ago, the demons of Hell were there. They had a holiday, when Jesus was on the cross; they pointed at Him, and they said, “He’s finished.” But, they were wrong. He wasn’t finished; it was finished. The plan of salvation was finished. And, here’s what Jesus did on that cross: Colossians 2:15—the Bible says, “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he”—Jesus – “made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). In what? In His death on the cross. What has happened to Satan is he has been spoiled; that means he’s been stripped. And then, he has been shamed; He made a show of them openly. And then, he has been subdued, “triumphing over them.” Every time you think of Satan, I want you to think of someone who has been stripped, shamed, and subdued.

Now, do not be presumptuous. If you get yourself out of God’s protection, the devil can harm you.

And, dear friend, as long as you abide in Christ, you don’t have to worry about Satan. “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Satan has been stripped, shamed, subdued; he has been vanquished, but he’s not vanished. He is present, but he is not prevailing. First John 4:4: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Now, Jesus, at the cross, overcame Satan.

But, wait a minute. Is Satan going to continue his reign of terror forever? No. One of these days, the King of kings, the Lord Jesus, is going to be enthroned, and Satan is going to be cast into Hell. Look at verse 19: “All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more” (Ezekiel 28:19). That means, “Never are you going to be in power; never, anymore, are you going to have a reign of terror in the world.”

Let me show you the counterpart of that; and this is one of the greatest blessings in the Bible,—Isaiah 14—and look at verse 13. Again, Isaiah 14 deals with the demise of Satan. And, it talks about how Satan has exalted himself, and lifted himself up. But, notice what God says He is going to do to Satan: “Thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14).

And, notice what has happened to him, what God says to him, in verse 15: “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:15). My friend, Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels; and, notice verse 16: “They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee,”—that is, they are just going to squint in unbelief—”and consider thee,”—they’re going to stroke their chins—”saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?” (Isaiah 14:16- 17).

God is going to bring the end of created intelligences of the universe. And, when Jesus Christ, the King of kings, is finally enthroned and glorified, and Satan is finally put in his place in the lowest Hell, our great God is going to say, “Come over here, now, and look; look at it. You see him? Do you see him down there, ignominiously groveling? Do you see him like a worm on hot coals? Do you see this highest of a high, who’s been brought to the lowest of the low?” And, you’re going say, “You mean, that’s him? That’s the devil? That’s this mighty one? That’s the cherub? That’s the one who stretched his wings before the throne? That’s the one who was full of wisdom? That’s the one who was surpassing in glory and beauty? That was the one who handled the merchandise of Heaven? That is him? He’s the one that made the world a wilderness?”

I’ll tell you what else is going to happen: You’re going to find folks just like us—just like him, like me, like you—and, you know where we’re going to be? We’re going to be just like Jesus—just like Jesus, made like Christ. You cannot imagine the glory. Now, you get this, my dear friend, and get it big, and get it plain, and get it straight: You are going to have greater glory in Heaven than Satan had before he fell—greater glory in Heaven than Satan had before he fell—because you will be like Jesus Christ. And, there you are; there he is. Who do you want to follow? Who do you want to follow? Choose sides carefully, my dear friend; think about it. Listen—I had rather be a saved sinner than an innocent angel. We have gained more in Christ than we lost in Adam.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

just a note, questions, comments, prayer requests, etc. please send to the email address.

 

BIBLE GIVEAWAY, BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE WE GAVE AWAY A BIBLE.

 

SO A LARGE PRINT, COMPACT KJV (KING JAMES VERSION) BROWN LEATHER, RED LETTER EDITION.

SO IN THE “TAGS” THERE IS ONE PHRASE I USE THAT IS NOT BIBLICAL, NAME THE PHRASE AND EMAIL US THE ANSWER TO WIN A FREE BIBLE, NO SHIPPING COST, TOTALLY FREE.

 

Jesus only (or ammo to go) helping you defend the gospel.

Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Or as Paul put it in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” Paul addressed Jesus as our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. John, in his gospel, speaks bout His pre-incarnate state and that He is the living Word. Paul says that He spoke all things into being and in Him and through Him all things hold together. Now these are very strong claims and it’s not surprising the Jews often accused Him of blasphemy.

You couldn’t spend much time with Him and remain neutral. As a result of the encounter, you’d either move closer to Him or further away. But one thing you couldn’t do and that is just to be indifferent. That was never seemingly an option. Jesus made the claim that the only way for us to bridge the gap between God and ourselves is that we receive this free gift that He is offering to us and that good deeds that we have- systems of human effort and merit- will fall woefully short. Frankly, as Paul puts it, I have to agree, if there was any other way by which we could in fact obtain salvation other than the death of Christ- then Christ died needlessly. What He did on the cross would be a considerable waste because such a desperate means would have been an error. It would have been a tragic martyrdom. Do you see where I’m going with this? If I deal honestly and simply with the primary materials themselves, it forces me into a position where I have to acknowledge that there’s more to it than just the idea that He could’ve said anything you wanted Him to say.

His claim to be divine. He claimed to be omnipresent- that was in Matthew- I am with you always until the end of the age and the other- wherever two or three are gathered in My name there I am with them. These are not the kinds of claims that are made just by an ordinary sage or someone like that. If you put the synoptic gospels together, you can derive a very strong case for His deity even from just those. The Jews understood His claims about the unique relationship He has with His Father and to them this would be blasphemy. John is more direct and explicit about it. It doesn’t mean he would depart from the basic teachings of the synoptics on these matters.

By the way, in Christianity, faith alone is the vehicle of salvation- it is by grace through faith. It’s something that stands apart and is unique just as the idea of the Trinity is unique. The idea that God is a community of persons, three-in-one, is utterly unique to the biblical vision. By the way that idea of persons in relationship is what human life is pretty much about if you hadn’t noticed yet. We have an ultimate basis for such relationship that’s actually imbedded within the context of community of the Godhead.

He fulfilled 30 Old Testament prophecies on the day of His crucifixion down to the details; He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, His garments would be divided, they would cast lots for His garments, they would pierce His hands and His feet, His side would be pierced as well but furthermore they would not break His bones and so on. The money that was used to betray Him would be used to buy the potter’s field. There are specific details being confirmed again and again in His life. There was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Micah 5:2 that He would be born in Bethlehem and on and on these details are fulfilled- from the tribe of Judah and so forth. How about His miracles? If you don’t believe Me on account of My words then believe on account of the works that I do- the works bear witness that I am the Son of God. My works themselves bear witness of who I claim to be. (John 11:37-38) We have the fulfillment of the prophecies, His miraculous life and His power.

He had an awesome power to change lives. I submit to you for example the woman at the well as being a marvelous illustration of that very thing. Mary Magdalene is also another marvelous illustration of how this woman is transformed permanently and irrevocably. He had the power to change and transform lives. He still has that power today. His resurrection is also another divine substantiation of His deity. We spent a whole hour discussing the evidence for the historical resurrection from the dead. He also lived a sinless life. In fact His disciples who lived with Him, ate with Him, walked with Him, and for three and one half years saw everything He did and they could make the claims that in Him there was no sin. Jesus’ credentials were unparalleled. The reality of His authority over disease, demons, nature and death are well documented. The claims and credentials back each other up. They support one another. His words and His works are a seamless tunic.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Jesus the only way.

 

(ok, this is really long, you might want to print it out, there’s just no way to make smaller bites, or this would turn out to be a one year study)

This issue about how can Christ be the only way to God is one of the toughest objections that will surface. It used to be the questions that concerned the issues of why do the innocent suffer. But now, I think, this question has become perhaps one of the largest obstacles. Why do you suppose that’s true? I think it’s a growth of pluralism and the issue of tolerance. We’ve discussed this in a number of cases but in our culture people have been educating us to suppose that tolerance is defined by agreeing with people or at least agreeing that their view may be just as legitimate as your view.

That is to say egalitarianism when it comes to truth has become the kind of course of the time. In other words, we are egalitarian with regard to truth. It’s interesting that we are often still elitists when it comes to people but egalitarian when it comes to truth. As I see it, it should be just the other way around. We are to be elitists when it comes to truth and egalitarian when it comes to people. That is to say, treat people in such a way that tolerance would be defined as loving and caring for the person and agreeing sometimes to disagree but in understanding that when we disagree on a truth that does not mean I’m rejecting you as a person.

Some how people have got the notion that to disagree with your thinking is to reject you as a person. I don’t know where that came from but that’s never really been the case at all. Such things would have eliminated the whole possibility of debate and dialogue in the past. Rather you have the idea that it is a good thing. Come now, let us reason together. (Isaiah 1:18) Let’s think things through and let’s have an opportunity to kind of evaluate options in the marketplace of ideas to see which ones hold and which ones do not. That is really all we are doing here.

the immediate objection surfaces that how can Christ be the only way to God is that means it’s too narrow. Some will say that since religion is all basically the same, some people feel that does it really matter which one you believe. In other words, aren’t all those religions pretty much variations on the same kinds of ideas? Isn’t it a matter of personal preference or upbringing or an estimated 75% of the world isn’t Christian, can they all be wrong? This sort of notion comes up. Jesus may be the only way for you but how does that make Him the only way for everybody?

You see, these are all really variations of the same objection. When this question surfaces then we need to consider that there are three basic options.

One could say that it’s not narrow and to revisit the whole issue and to say actually, as some have tried to do, that Christianity has been redefined in many circles as being so inclusive that it includes virtually anything. The question is whether that really is acceptable within the idea of mere Christianity or historic orthodox Christianity and whether that’s compatible or whether that’s coherent or not. The other option is if it’s narrow it must be wrong. The third option is narrowness doesn’t make it right or wrong. The question is whether it’s true or not.

When C.S. Lewis came to faith in Christ, ultimately he communicated that it was not because he wanted to believe. In fact, it was very much against his predilection. His disposition was to go against that. In fact, he said, I was a very satisfied, smug atheist. Then all these friends, these people I ran into, kept on jostling me. An atheist, he says, can never be too careful these days! You might read something, you might run into something that might be factual and so it is. It was not really something he wanted but something that kind of embraced him. It was not unlike Paul’s experience. He was really fighting against this whole thing. It was when Christ laid His hand upon him- that became a decisive experience in his life.

So Lewis came to the point where he says, you need to understand, it’s not because of any pragmatic value that Christianity may or may not have, it’s not because I feel good about it or that it is something I want to believe, I happen to be a Christian because I happen to believe it’s true. There is no other reason I believe but because I happen to think it’s true. I have been persuaded that there is a veridical case for Christianity among the worldview options. It’s such that it has the best evidential base of any of them.

Let’s take a look at the first option then that it is not narrow. My argument here is that such a view would conflict with the very exclusive claims of Christ. Now some people are clever and they try to redefine those claims or try to say that well, it looks like He said it but He really didn’t say it, the church put those words in His mouth. We’ve talked about that a little bit with this whole issue about Jesus being a myth or a legend when we talked earlier about the bible and it’s reliability. But the bottom line here is to say that there is no manuscript or historical or ancient traditions that would support such a view. In fact, it’s a view that’s rather recent that has been imposed upon the material to reconstruct or one might better say to deconstruct the text to fit modern parameters of a more pluralistic context. As we know, we live in a culture where truth is now presumably socially conditioned rather than something that’s objective. In a postmodern culture, which is actually ultra modern, basically the idea is that everything is up for grabs. What may be true for you may not be true for me. We’ll talk about that in a minute but let’s look at least at the texts themselves first of all.

Here’s what people often suppose. It might be that there is a mountain and as we go further and further up this mountain toward its pinnacle there are different ways up this mountain. Various people go up by different routes, some circuitous and others more directly but eventually they’re all going to converge at the top. The idea is that everybody at the top of the mountain will realize it was all the same quest after all. We’re all meeting at the top and whatever god, as you define who God would be, we’ll all say, oh, so all the religions really were all about the same god or about the same thing. It just looked different in our own culture. It’s often presented this way or else they use a wheel illustration. We look at this wheel and the various aspects and when we look at the hub, we see again that we’re all actually kind of heading toward the same hub, same center, whatever that might be and we may not know what it is. There are some accounts given that are of a pluralistic nature that say, nobody of course can know what kind of god this is. The very nature then of god is unknowable.

Of course that’s a content statement that everyone has to ask, how do you know that He’s unknowable? Immediately you have to realize that they are importing backhanded some particular facts and making very specific claims that the various people who made claims to know about God were completely deluded.

In other words you cannot be totally neutral on this matter. I’m suggesting here that actually that kind of view does not take seriously into account the claims and credentials of Christ. Now in John 3:18, the statement made by Christ, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Often, Jesus will speak of Himself as the Son of Man or the Son of God. He has this very strong claim that He’s making. In John 8:24 He said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Again this is a very strong claim.

Many people say, well, Jesus never really spoke much about Himself but even if He wasn’t true or even if He didn’t live or even if He wasn’t raised from the dead, His teachings would still be true. This was what Gandhi actually held as his position. He said that I admire His teachings so much that even if there never was a historical Jesus, still they would be true for me. The problem is, Jesus’ teachings are always about Himself – unabashedly, constantly referring back to Him. He doesn’t talk just about general terms but He says, unless you believe that I AM, then you will die in your sins. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

I take it as well, as I look at the various founders of world religions that there is a radical uniqueness of Christ in a number of ways in this regard. Some people promoted their teachings as the only way to God. But as I said earlier, Christ promoted Himself as that way rather than a set of teachings. Some would say that it is only through the teachings of various so-called prophets, and some said truth is spoken of in many ways but Jesus was very specific about this. He was specific not only about his exclusivity but also about His deity and His unique position. He boldly made this statement, (John 8:19b), “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” He who does not know Me does not know My Father. This is a very strong claim indeed and can be seen in another text in Matthew 11. This is just before the important text we’ve all heard, Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My Yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Jesus is inviting them not to come to hear His teachings but to come to Him and He will give you rest. Take My yoke- receive – He constantly talks about receiving Him. The verse just before this, Matthew 11:27 says, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” So you have this pretty strong kind of claim that has to at least be accounted for. In John 14:9, He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

This other phrase that we just alluded to, I AM, often in bold letters, is seen again and again throughout the Scriptures in the New Testament as being a claim that Jesus makes. The I AM claim that He is making is related to the claim given to Moses. The proposition was given to Moses at the burning bush and you recall when Moses said in Exodus 3, whom shall I say is sending me? Who, will I tell Pharaoh, is sending me? Who, will I tell Pharaoh, is giving me the authority for this message? What did that voice give Moses? What was that name that Moses heard? Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.” That is the name then for the self-existent One. He exists in and of Himself. He looks to nothing else for His derivation. When Jesus said to the Jews, (John 8: 58), “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” How do you suppose they reacted to such a phrase? By the way, He didn’t say, I happen to exist or I am He, He said I AM. Else where, when they came to seek Him and there was a cohort, some 600 of them armed, and they came at night, as you recall in the Garden of Gethsemane, to take Him away, they came armed with lanterns, spears, torches and so forth. John 18: 4b, “Whom do you seek?” John 18:5a, “They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I AM.” (Note: now in your bibles it might say He in italics but this phrase was ego eime- I AM) John 18:6, “So when He said to them, “I AM He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” Something happened that was pretty powerful. In another case (John 57-59), when Jesus said, before Abraham was born, I AM, the Jews objected and said, You’re not even 50 years old and are You saying that You preceded him. They took up stones and wanted to stone Him to death for blasphemy because they understood that such a claim would be to make yourself tantamount to being God.

He supported His case for deity in a number of ways besides His numerous I AM statements. He also claimed the attributes of God. For example, the attribute of eternality is something that He claimed in John 17:5, “ Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” He claims as well the attribute of omnipresence. You see this illustrated in several passages for example when Jesus says in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Now you can see where there are lots of times when more than 2 or 3 groups of people as well will gather together and it would imply a clear statement of omnipresence. “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b) I am with you. I’m constantly present with you. I would also say another claim, His sinlessness, is also a divine attribute. He would say, which of you convicts Me, charges Me with any sin. That’s a pretty strong statement. Now I have run into one or two people, maybe two people, who claimed to be sinless. They’re pretty rare but every so often I’ll run into someone who claims to be absolutely perfect. It’s an astounding claim but it requires no self-consciousness whatsoever or the perfection of those 3 defense mechanisms of denial, rationalization and projection. The only way I can account for a person who thinks himself or herself sinless is of course to see what friends and perhaps a spouse would reply to that statement about them! This particular person had to hold that view because he held a particular theology where by if he sinned at all, he would lose his salvation. What I did was I pressed him a little bit with that particular theology and said, well, what kind of sin are we talking about? Is it something pretty big or something more modest because the question is, where is your cutoff? I pressed him with that. He hadn’t murdered anyone. Then the problem would be, what if you hate somebody in your heart? Do you recall when Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said if you hate your brother you’ve committed murder in your heart? Then I pressed it farther and I got it down to where if he exceeded the speed limit, unbeknownst to him, by ½ mph, he would lose his salvation. Now at that point, frankly, he had committed the sin of pride in order to hold to such a stubborn position because he refused to acknowledge the incoherence of his position. The point is, if that’s your view then any sin will do it- thought, word or deed and it can be sins of omission as well. The sins of omission cut both ways as well. There are a lot of things I have done wrong by simply not doing them. Remember that idea- if you have a liturgical background part of the confession is that we have sinned in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and in what we have failed to do. That will nail you because there are all kinds of things that we should’ve done. We look back and say, I should’ve said a word of kindness to that person or I should’ve- you see where I’m going with that? Thought, word and deed will get you too. It’s not just your deeds but your thoughts and your words count too! We have a dilemma that we have to address. Scripture hits us front on with that.

There are a number of indirect claims that Jesus makes concerning His deity. There are a number of these but one of these is His ability to forgive sin. That is a pretty strong claim in Mark 2:5-11 and Luke 7:48-50 when Jesus says, I forgive them, and particularly when it was not a sin committed against Him. Try this at home- somebody complains to you about another person who had said something mean to your friend and your friend told you about this and whatever they did you say, that’s okay, I forgive them. Do you see the absurdity there? Wait a minute, what do you have to do with this, you weren’t involved? To make such a claim is to make the supposition that all sins are committed ultimately against Him. This would mean, of course, that He claimed to be God. In fact the Pharisees rightly said, who but God could forgive sins? They were right and again- they wanted to stone Him for these kinds of claims and these so-called blasphemies because they were right- if He wasn’t God these were indeed blasphemies.

Jesus’ acceptance of worship was pretty strong. Remember when, for example, Thomas sees Him and he says, my Lord and my God. (John 20:28) Peter worships Him in the boat and when Jesus says, all must honor the Son even as they have honored the Father. (John 5:23) The word that is used is the word for worship. These are very strong claims. That all people would face Him in judgment is not a modest claim either in John 5. Imagine me coming to say to you that by the way, when you die it’s going to be me that you give an account to- not anyone else- me. These are pretty strong claims if you would analyze the implications of that. Also, that judgment will be based upon what you did about Me is again, a very strong claim.

Stay tuned

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for James, he and his son have drifted apart.

Pray for Fritz, always been in church, never accepted the Lord because of “hypocrites.”

Pray for Robin M. a burned out child of the 70’s, never grew up.

 

christ on cross

  “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7).

  Our Father has many reasons for administering trial —all good. Trial teaches us the futility of the old life, and the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus—our new life.

  “The Christian suffers the same calamities as others, perhaps even worse; he faces difficulties and losses in the things of this life; he has to be prepared to meet death itself. In all these circumstances he is calm and trustful; he is not only sure of ultimately going to heaven, but already abides there and enjoys something of it in his own heart.

 God is real to him and ever near. He knows a peace which passes all understanding, and he experiences a joy which no man can take from him. This, surely, should be our testimony in the world, but it can only be as the Lord Jesus Himself lives out this life in us.

  The world is divided into two things—pleasures and afflictions; I am more afraid of the pleasures than the afflictions. In afflictions you turn to the Lord. The danger is of being carried away by the very favors God has given to man.

  Those who suffer from chastening ought to be before the Father, owning His hand; and He who has wounded will heal. The Lord Jesus did not take the cup which He had to drink from us, from man, nor from Satan; but from His Father’s hand.

  “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Charlie, what he calls ‘man cancer’ he always has had a wicked sense of humor.

Pray for Paul C, a lost sheep,

Put off, Put on

May 13, 2018

Putting Off the Old and Putting On the New

(Ephesians 4:22-24)

This is the end of our series on this passage in Ephesians. And this last devotional is a little long, you may want to print it out. Blessings

22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

In the first verses of Ephesians chapter 2, Paul described the unbeliever as being subject to the world, the flesh, and the devil. In most instances, the devil exercises control over lost men by means of the external pressure of the world and corresponding internal inclinations of the flesh. In Ephesians 4:17-19 Paul has instructed the Christian to turn from the corrupting influences of the world in which we live (our culture). Now, in verses 22-24, Paul turns to the subject of our flesh, urging us to put off the “old man” and to put on the new.

I understand Paul to refer to the flesh as our “old self,” or as the marginal note in the NASB indicates, our “old man.” In Romans chapter 8 this “old self” would be synonymous with the “mind set on the flesh” (Romans 8:6-7). The “new self” would be our new “inner man” (Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 3:16), the “mind set on the Spirit” (Romans 8:6).

Beginning at verse 25, Paul will specifically identify those attitudes and actions which we should “put off” and those which should be “put on” in their place. But here Paul is dealing with our manner of life in principle, in general terms. Our fleshly behavior is the outgrowth, the expression, of our inner fleshly nature, just as Christian conduct is the outgrowth and expression of the inner man, created and empowered by the Holy Spirit:

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:16-24).

Paul persists in emphasizing the continuity between our conversion to Christ and our conduct in Christ, which should be evident in our manner of life.

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:1-14).

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (Colossians 2:6).

In Christ, our old man has been crucified, put to death. In our daily conduct, we should crucify the flesh daily, and put aside the conduct which springs forth from fleshly desires. In Christ we were made alive, raised from the dead and seated with Him in the heavenlies (see Ephesians 2:5-6). We should therefore walk in newness of life, manifesting the work of the Spirit of God in and through us. It is by His power that we are both motivated and enabled to live in a way that pleases God:

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.… 10 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you. (Romans 8:1-4, 10-11)

20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

This expression, “lusts of deceit” is somewhat puzzling as to its precise meaning. What we can be sure of is that there is a direct relationship between “lust” and “deceit.” I believe it is safe to say that “lust” is “deceitful,” and also to say that “deceit” is “lustful.” Lust is deceitful in that it does not produce what it seems to promise. Lust promises pleasure, but it ultimately produces death (see Romans 6:15-23, especially verse 21). Deceit is lustful in that it never seems to be satisfied, it always wants more victims (see Proverbs 1:10-19).

Jesus warned of the danger of attempting to remove evil, rather than replacing it (see Luke 11:26). Paul’s words indicate that our old nature and its deeds are not merely to be rejected, they are to be replaced. We must “put off” the old man and at the same time “put on” the new. While the old nature is continually being corrupted by the lusts of deceit, the new nature is renewing us, in accordance with the nature of God and His righteousness and truth. The old nature is being corrupted, the new is being renewed. The old is deceitful, the new deals in truth. The old is sinful, the new is righteous. The old is driven by lusts, the new by the character and purposes of God.

Conclusion

Christ did not save us in order that we may live any way that we choose. He saved us to live godly lives, and thus to live in a way that is radically different from our lifestyle as unbelievers. Our conduct, as Paul has indicated in verse 1 of chapter 4 is to conduct ourselves in a manner that is worthy of our calling in Christ.

The conduct which God requires of Christians should not come as a surprise to them after they have been saved. The gospel, as preached by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles, called men to repentance as well as to faith in Christ. Men were required to turn from their sin to Christ, and it was clear that this meant a new way of life. The “gospel” of our day is not so clearly stated. It is as though we fear that men will be receive Christ if they know what is involved. The irony is that the gospel, the true gospel, is the power of God unto salvation. The more we seek to rid the gospel of its unappealing aspects (from the unbeliever’s point of view) the more we rob it of its power. We then rely more on our cleverness and deceit than on the power of the Holy Spirit to convince and convert lost sinners. When we share our faith, let us tell it like it is.

This text, and those which follow in Ephesians, make it clear that while salvation and sanctification are the work of God, they require man’s response. God is sovereign in the salvation and spiritual growth of those whom He has chosen. He also ordained that men are to be informed of the gospel and of God’s standards of conduct, and that we are to act in obedience to His commands, not in our own strength, but in that which He supplies. Let us not leave this text with a passive view of our spiritual life. God has made every provision for our sanctification, and we are to obediently make use of them, for His glory and for our good.

It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of the truths conveyed in the passage before us. While the verses which follow it will spell out specific conduct which befits the Christian, this text speaks of the basis for our conduct in general terms. It is our commitment to the general exhortations of this passage which will greatly affect our compliance with the commands that follow.

The Christian lifestyle will not be lived out by those with a pagan mindset. It is the Christian mindset of our text which works itself out in the conduct which befits our calling in Christ. Allow me to point out some of the inferences of Paul’s teaching in our text and its implications in our practical daily living.

Our pagan culture believes that the past is the key to the present. What we think and how we act, we are told, is the result of our past. It is only by understanding our past that we can live as we should in the present. In other words, the past controls the present.

The Bible reverses this. Paul teaches us that our thinking and conduct in the past was the outworking of our unregenerate thinking. Paul insists that we refuse to allow our past to control us in the present. Instead, Paul teaches us that what we now are, in Christ, is what should override and overrule our past thinking and behavior. What we now are in Christ should cause us to put away what we once thought and did as unbelievers. Our past should not be resurrected, analyzed and dwelled upon, it should be buried in an unmarked grave. It is not what we were that matters, but what we are. Let us ponder what we are, in Christ, and not what we were without Him.

In our culture, what you believe seems to have taken second place to how you feel. The sensitive, intelligent, and probing thing to ask these days is, “How do you feel about that?” Paul would rather have us focus on what we believe. What we feel is often a far cry from what is true, and even from what we believe. Faith, as I understand it, calls upon men to act on the truth God has revealed in His Word, not on how we feel. Abraham did not “feel” like leaving his homeland and relatives to go to an unnamed place, but he obeyed God. Neither did he feel like offering up his son, Isaac, but he was willing to obey. Our Lord did not feel like going to the cross of Calvary, but He obeyed the will of His Father. Let us act on what we know to be the truth as revealed in the Word of God, more than on how we happen to feel. As a rule, faith acts on the facts of God’s Word and disregards our feelings.

If the renewing of our minds is so vital to our Christian life, how is it done? The Bible is not a book of formulas, but I would like to focus your attention on one key element: the Word of God. When a person wants to learn a foreign language, what is the most effective way to do so? It is to enter into that culture and language and become saturated with it. This is how our children learn to talk and to think as we do. If we would desire to have our minds renewed, then we must find God’s thoughts and immerse ourselves in them. His thoughts have been incarnated in Christ, the Living Word, and recorded in the Bible, His inspired written Word.

I dare say that most Christians spend more time in front of their television sets, radios, magazines, and books than they do in their Bibles. Even many Christian stations and publications contain much that is secular thinking sprinkled with a smattering of spiritual jargon. If we would think God’s thoughts after Him, we will find them only in His Word. Let us become so saturated with His Word that we begin to reflect His ways, His values, His goals, His methods. This is the renewing of the mind which Paul calls for.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com